Netflix had a strong end to 2020, unlike many others, with a recent quarterly earnings call (PDF) noting that shares have soared on the back of the streaming service surpassing the 200 million subscriber mark during Q4 of last year. This news is also prompting Netflix to look at new ways to keep subscribers signed up to the service, but also to increase how much they stream, which leads us to the announcement that Shuffle Play is set to rollout worldwide later this year.
The feature is fairly common among media playing services, and music ones in particular, but less so when it comes to video. As such it remains to be seen whether it has the desired effect, but its rollout comes after Netflix says it tested out the feature among focus groups.
Shuffle Play, “gives members the ability to choose to instantly watch a title chosen just for them versus browse,” Netflix noted during its earnings call. No date, however, has been outlined, so it remains to be seen whether a region by region or all-at-once strategy is adopted.
Thinking about how that process would work, it does not seem handy if you are binge watching a specific series, but could prove useful if their is a genre or actor/actress that you’re interested in seeing content from.
It could also help introduce subscribers to new content that they otherwise would not have watched, much like the algorithm behind Spotify does, although it is unclear whether or not the same coding is at work here. That said, a screenshot of the new Shuffle Play feature from TechCrunch, shows that it is based on subscriber viewing habits and taste.
With Disney+ and HBO Max strengthening their positions with new content, and the likes of Showmax (for SA) and Amazon Prime improving all the time, it looks like Netflix will need to add more features like Shuffle Play to the mix in order to stay the go-to streaming service in 2021.
It should be interesting to see whether it does the trick.